She’s not your daughter, Patrick. She’ll never be your daughter – I could still hear my Mum’s voice ringing in my head as I walked back to my room, still shaken. What did she mean by that, and who is it that she’s talking to? I walked into my room and shut the door, not wanting to go downstairs again. Does Mum have another lover? Is she cheating on Dad? Why do I feel something’s not right somewhere? One minute she’s happy, the next she’s moody and not saying anything. Oh, God. Please let it not be what I’m thinking. I placed my hand on my tummy and tried to steady my breathing.
I walked back to the bed and sat down on it. I looked to where my phone was, feeling nauseous at the sight, as I made no move of picking it up.
The thought of Mum having another lover made goosebumps flush over me. Even though it was mere suspicion, I didn’t know why it got me thinking real hard. But I knew my Mum. She loved my Dad really well. She wouldn’t do anything that’ll hurt him. No –
Mum came to my room not long after, making me wonder if she had heard my footsteps then, or she just wanted to know how I was.
“You okay, baby?”
I wasn’t in the mood to answer, but she didn’t give me much of a choice. I was anxious to know who the caller was, and whose daughter she was referring to. “Mum, why do you have to sleep in a separate room and not in Dad’s?” I inquired. “Are you not fine being with him?”
She chuckled nervously. “Of course, baby. I’m fine sleeping in the same room with your Dad. But you know how he always is about work, especially when he’s got his documents and all piled up on all corners.”
I wasn’t convinced with her answer. “Seriously, Mum? You know, I’ve never even seen you two kiss before. Not even on Valentine’s day… or even you guys anniversary.”
“Oh, sweetie. You’re funny, you know that?” She laughed and sat down beside me.
“Just saying.” I shrugged my shoulders ad she squeezed them.
I knew Dad always valued his work more than anything, but Mum wasn’t making it any better. Moving out wasn’t the right option. Why does it feel like there’s something she’s not telling me? “Who is my father, Mum?” My question must have gotten her dumbfounded as she remained quiet. I asked again, “Who… is… my… father?”
“Baby, why do you ask that? You know your Dad is. You’re a Parker of course.”
I still wasn’t convinced.
“Are you sure, Mum? You’re really sure?”
Her shaky response came. “O-of course, honey. Of course. Why would you ask that in the first place? Did anyone tell you that your Daddy isn’t?”
I sighed. “No one. No one, Mommy.”
“Remember that pact we made when you were eight?” She reminded with a bleak smile, and memories of 10 years ago rushed in.
“Mommy. Daddy. Mommy, where are you?”
“Baby? Baby, I’m right here.”
“Mommy, I’m scared. I’m so scared, Mommy. I need a hug.”
“Oh, shh. Shh, baby. Mommy’s right here. Mommy’s right here now.”
“Why is Daddy so angry, Mommy. Why is he yelling at you?”
“Oh, no, no, baby. Daddy and I were only having a talk. That’s all. But you have to promise Mommy one thing.”
“What’s that, Mommy?’
“Promise me that you won’t worry about anything that goes one between Mommy and Daddy. And you won’t worry about Mommy, too. Promise me, my child.”
“I promise, Mommy. Pinky swear.”
“I could see right through your eyes then. Though tender as you were, you knew everything that was going on between your father and me.”
“But why do you two fight all the time, Mum? And why is Dad never at home?” I asked with sadness, looking at my Mum who was already sniffing. Is she really crying? What did Dad do this time? “M-mum, what happened this time? Come on. I’m all grownup now. You shouldn’t be hiding things from me.”
She rubbed her nose and smiled. “You need not worry, my dear. We made a pact. So don’t worry about Mommy. Okay?” She said, and kissed my forehead.
Tricia’s beginning to suspect. How long do I have to hide the truth before it gets out and ruin my marriage? No, I can’t do this. I can’t do this anymore. Why did Patrick have to come back to Chicago after all these years? What is really his motive here? To take his daughter? Or to make certain that I come with him? Oh, God. What is this? Why do I feel this way? The sound of the door made me stop pacing. “You’re home?” I asked, half a question, half a speech.
“Oh, I am.” My husband replied.
I didn’t know how to talk to him or what to say so he wouldn’t suspect a thing. These days it felt as though we were strangers… and not husband and wife.
“Is something wrong?” He drew closer and wrapped his arms around me from behind.
I knew that it won’t be long before he figured out something wasn’t right with the way my heart kept beating.
“Uh, let me have Nanny Pearl get your food -” I made to pull away as he held me still.
“No. Just stay right here with me. I’ve missed my lovely wife.” He exhaled, a low moan breaking out on his lips as he trailed kisses down my neck. His hands left my waist as he turned me around. “You feel better now?”
Is he asking me that after the argument we had in the morning? Or has he forgotten so soon? “Raymond, please -” I threw my head to the side, not pleased.
“Is this about the argument we had before I left for work?”
“What else?!” I turned to him sharply. “What else, Raymond? Where do you often go to after work? What makes you not come home to your wife and daughter? Is there something that I should know?” I searched in his eyes for answers, forgetting all about mine.
“Do we have to go about this right now?
“Oh, hell yes! Is work that important to you than me? Wh-what am I to you even? Don’t I mean anything anymore?”
He said nothing. Absolutely nothing. “That’s what I expected.” I pulled away from him totally and made to leave as he grabbed my waist.
“Okay. Look, honey. I’m so sorry. I know you’re mad at me for not always being here. But please understand. You know how it is at work and everything. I promise to make it up to you. Really.”
“Oh, you’re always promising, but you never get to fulfill them!” I shot him an angry stare
“And I said I will. Trust me this time. Okay?”
I shook my head, not wanting to hear any of that again. “It’s okay, Raymond. Just take a shower and come downstairs to eat.
With that, I walked away.
They were arguing again, I could tell. I was so fed up with them doing that – arguing like they weren’t adults. I just couldn’t wait for summer break to the over so I could go back to school and be far away from them – so far away. I forced myself to relax, taking a deep breath as I chided myself, don’t get so paranoid, Trish. It’s only for this week. Just this week!
“Can I come in?”
It was Dad. Why do I always have to be the one to sort out their problems? I’m the child here, they’re the adult! I kept my thoughts to myself and affirmed with lips closed, “Mm-hmm.”
“I see you’re getting ready for school, hmm?” He sat beside me, and I could only nod.
“Uh, what do you want, Dad? Let’s see. You and Mum had a fight again, didn’t you?” I stifled a laugh, as his came.
“You heard us, huh?”
“Oh, please. Dad, you do realize that she’s right. You’re never at home and that’s bad!” I said angrily. “I mean, what do you always do at work that makes you not wanna come back to your family? Do you have a mistress?”
A slip of the tongue – I knew asking that wasn’t right, but I had to. Dad was getting worse by the minute, and I couldn’t just watch and let my Mum be the one to get hurt by everything.
“Baby, you do know that your Dad isn’t capable of such. Why would you even ask that?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. You’re the one giving us reason to doubt. You know, Dad, Mum’s always not in the mood for anything because of how you treat her. You don’t show her the love she deserves – you make her feel not wanted and it hurts her, like real bad.” I stated.
“I know. But baby you just have to understand that Dad’s always busy at work. Being a mayor isn’t easy, you know? I try to explain to your mother all the time but she just doesn’t listen.”
“I’m not surprised.” I mumbled, not wanting to look at him.
“Nothing. Uh, maybe you should talk to her, Dad. You know how Mum is. I know she’d listen this time. Trust me.” I spoke, certain she was going to listen to him this time.
If she does, the phone call memory came in again. What if Mum’s also at fault? I can’t tell Dad about this. He’ll get furious.
“Thanks, sweetie.” Dad embraced me.
The next day, Dad announced that we were going on a picnic since that was his day off . Dad never takes a day off, meaning he wanted to make it up to Mum, which I was glad about.
“Take care, Lucille. We’ll make sure everything’s in order before you get back.” Nanny Pearl said to Mum.
I’m not so sure if she was telling only her, but I like how she cared about Mum really well. She’s always taken care of her right from when she was a baby. She’s always seen Mum as her daughter, and I loved the fact she was there for us… unlike some who fancy their work more than anything. I could say I was loving this ‘new dad’. And I’m beginning to feel the day’s gonna be just right – Rend Lake, here we come.
The clouds blackened in the sky and the leaves rustled. Looking up to the sky, Mr. Parker groaned. “Great. Now it’s going to rain.”
“Should have chosen a resort, like I said.” Mrs. Parker took out a berry from the plate and glanced at her daughter. “You okay there, honey?” she asked. “You’ve been awfully quiet, you know.” She observed for a second.
“I’m fine, Mum.” Tricia replied. “Looks like it’s gonna rain any minute.” She looked up to the sky.
Mr. Parker’s mind was so far from what they were talking about. He didn’t mind if the rain fell. He was anxiously waiting for his guest to arrive.
“You know, you’ve been looking at your phone for quite sometime. Are you expecting someone?”
Mr Parker frowned at her question. “Don’t push it.”
“Raymond.” Someone called – one whose voice wasn’t hard to recognize.
Oh, no! gasped Mrs. Parker.
“Patrick.” Mr. Parker got up as he called, and walked over to where he was. “Oh, it’s good to see you old chap.”
Did Dad just say Patrick? Tricia pondered, and looked at her mother whose expression she could tell. Oh, you have got a lot of explanation to do, mommy dearest!
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